By Kathryn G. Menu
A proposal to allow Myron Levine to gift the Village of Sag Harbor a couple of cement chess tables, benches and stools in memoriam to his son Josh was not rejected by the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees during its Tuesday night meeting. But its proposed location was.
Josh Levine was tragically killed in a tractor accident at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett last fall. Prior to his death, he lived in Sag Harbor for two years with his wife and young children, was the market manager for Quail Hill, and in warm months, could be found every Saturday at the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market on Bay Street selling the farm’s organic produce. It was on a grassy expanse of lawn between Breakwater Yacht Club and where the farmers’ market was held that Myron hoped to erect the memorial to his son — a reminder of his commitment to the agrarian traditions of the East End, as well as a business venture Josh founded with his bother, Noah, designing and selling the chess tables to municipalities and schools across the country.
On Tuesday night, Myron said he was grateful for the community’s outpouring of support after his son’s death, and in honor of that had hoped to do something positive in return for the Village of Sag Harbor.
“I did feel the site near the farmers’ market would be the most appropriate site, but it has been pointed out to me today, the site may have some problems with it I did not know about,” said Myron.
According to trustee Robby Stein, it has been revealed that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation may or may not need to dig up the area proposed for the memorial in the next year. In August of last year, Exxon Mobil began investigating oil that bubbled up near that area of Bay Street.
Myron said he was amenable to moving the proposed location, as long as it was not tucked away, where no one would use it.
In addition to the possible oil cleanup, Stein said there is also a question as to whether or not the village can use that property or if it is tied to the Breakwater Yacht Club. Also, with possible remedial efforts by the DEC, the farmers’ market location could be moved, he added, making the site’s connection to Josh tenuous.
Stein suggested Mashashimuet Park — which he said is looking to create a central gathering area for residents — may be a good location and that as a member of the park board he believes the proposal has some support.
“It is a gracious gift and I hope we find a way to use it in the spirit it was given,” said Stein.
Gilbride agreed Mashashimuet Park may be a more appropriate area for the memorial, noting the Bay Street parcel is not zoned parkland and would likely not see much use in the off season. He also suggested a site at the school, or using community property next to the North Haven’s Village Hall.
“I just think there are other, far more busier, areas that a gift such as this would be better at,” he said. “We have some uncertainty on that area.”
Sag Harbor resident John Landes said while the Levines were amenable to another location, he would hope, given Josh’s connection to the farmers’ market, that eventually the site of the market and the memorial could be in the same area.
Former Mayor Pierce Hance disagreed with the board’s position on the site, noting that as mayor he helped create that area of parkland by the Breakwater. One of the great failures of the village is its lack of use, said Hance.
“Having something there that attracts people outside the farmers’ market is very consistent with why we put that grass down there,” said Hance. “If the DEC comes along and says they have to dig it up, you will have to dig it up and you can move them.”
Harbor Committee Asks for Greater Communication
On Tuesday night, after hearing two proposed local laws that affect the Sag Harbor Village waterfront — proposed laws his board had not been asked to review — Sag Harbor Village Harbor Committee Chairman Bruce Tait called for a greater level of communication between the board of trustees and the harbor committee, and noted most issues affecting the village waterfront will need to undergo a state-mandated Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan consistency review.
During the trustees meeting, a new local law was introduced that will try and address the impact faulty septic systems can have on the health of the waterfront. Specifically, four years after its adoption, it will require an on-site inspector of septic systems at least once every three years.
“Inspections shall be required and may be made at anytime when the sanitation inspector has reason to believe a system or plant is malfunctioning, has been illegally modified or expanded or is being operated beyond its design limits,” reads the proposed law, which Stein said will likely need revision before it is enacted. Maintenance of septic systems will also be required, according to the draft, with each septic system pumped or cleaned out every three years.
At Tait’s questioning, Stein said he agreed it would be important for the Harbor Committee to review the legislation and that a special work session will be convened.
Another law, preventing people from securing their vessels to moorings that do not belong to them — an issue Harbor Master Bob Bori contended with last season — also drew Tait’s interest, not because he disagreed with it, but because once more the committee had not been formally notified about the legislation.
“What you are really saying is communication is not consistent,” said Stein.
“There is no communication,” said Tait, asking his board be kept in the loop on waterfront issues, particularly as the State of New York is now looking at how the village is handling LWRP consistency reviews.
“I get very little communication or direction from the board of trustees about anything going on,” said Tait, adding at the close of every meeting he forwards a memo to trustees with questions, ideas and concerns on different waterfront matters, but does not hear back from the board.
“I am just a volunteer,” said Tait. “I just show up and I am just trying to get feedback from the board.”
Gilbride said he would have village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. look into the LWRP consistency review and trustee Tim Culver added he will start forwarding agenda items to the harbor committee directly.
The Harbor Committee’s next meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Monday, March 14.